Jul 18

Rodeo run out of town

Change of plans: The Bulli leg of Bikes and Bulls (pictured here in Maitland earlier this year) has been moved to Camden. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.A rodeo and motocross event which was scheduled to hit Bulli Showgroundat the end of January has been moved to Camden, following a widely supportedonline petition which raised concerns about animal cruelty.
Nanjing Night Net

Pitched as a family entertainment show where “the two most dangerous sports in the world face off”, the Bikes and Bulls show was due to arrive in Wollongong on January 22, according to an application being considered by Wollongong City Council.

However, on the event’s website, the January 22 show has been moved west, to Camden Equestrian Park.

Three weeks ago, Bulli resident Claire Roberts started a petition on Change.org to protest the event, saying signatories“strongly object to the rodeo component of this event because it is cruel to the animals involved”.

“Electric prods, spurs, and bucking straps are used to irritate and enrage animals used in rodeos,”Ms Roberts wrote.

“Due to cruelty, traditional rodeo events are banned in Britain and in parts of Europe and the United States and should be banned in Australia.”

She urged petitioners to write to the council to object to the show and received more than 1500 votes of support from Illawarra residents and people around the world.

It is not clear if the petition was the cause of the event’s move to Camden, and the Wollongong event remainsunder consideration by the council until January 9.

The Mercury’s phone calls to Carmichael Entertainment –the event organisers for Bikes and Bulls –were not returned before deadline.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has a code of practice for animals used in rodeo events which states that the “welfare of animals used in rodeo events must be safeguarded”.

The code says that “no animal shall be beaten or cruelly prodded”.

“The use of sticks, metal piping, wood, heavy leather belts, wooden paddles and similar objects is not permitted,” it says.

“Standard electric prods shall be used as little as possible and may be powered by battery or dynamo only.”

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Jul 18

Happy Friday, Tassie | December 30, 2016

Tasmania’s news headlinesNorth-West weatherFriday will bepartly cloudy with amedium chance of showers in the west and a slight chance elsewhere. West to northwesterly winds are expected to reach 30km/h.
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The UV Index is predicted to reach 13, which is extreme. Sun protection should be worn from 9am to 5.50pm.

News snapshotDevonport prepares to light up New Year’s:Devonport’s bigger and better New Year’s Eve celebration.

State’s bikie war rages on:Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard weighs in on outlaw motorcycle gangs in Tasmania.

Cycling results shared around:A standout rider was hard to pick on the opening day of the cycling program at the Devonport Carnival with results being shared around.

Pic by @doupishousi in Sydney.

Regional newsLAUNCESTON | Falls pill-testing trial pushHarm Reduction Australia says Tasmania could offer a pill-testing service at Falls Festival as a trial that other states could follow.

The organisation’s president, Gino Vumbaca, said he would love to see Tasmania lead the way on the issue, which has been a hot topic nationwide in the lead-up to festival season.

Harm Reduction Australia wants Tasmania to lead the nation in a festival pill-testing trial. Picture: Scott Gelston

ULLADULLA |South Coast men face court after biggest cocaine bust in Australian historyTwo South Coast men are among 15 arrested in connection to an alleged multi-million dollar drug syndicate importing cocaine via Sydney’s iconic fish markets and other NSW ports.

Michael Pirrello, 33, and Francesco Pirello, 39, were arrested in Ulladulla and refused bail in Nowra Local Court on Thursday.

AFP officers stand guard over some of the 500kilo cocaine seized during the Christmas Day bust. Picture: Kate Geraghty

BENDIGO | Victoriabracingfor January 1 power price hikeVictorians could pay an average of $230 a year more for their combined electricity and gas bills in 2017 as a price hike comes into effect from January 1.

Consumers are being urged to shop around to avoid price gouging, with the bulk of the electricity price rise blamed on the looming closure of the Hazelwood power station.

Expect to pay more.

BALLARAT | Region’s road toll highest in 20 yearsRoad authorities are making a last minute New Year plea to drivers to stop the region’s road toll, which is the worst in 20 years, from further increasing.

This year the combined Ballarat, Moorabool, Hepburn and Pyrenees government arearecorded 21 road fatalities –more than four times higher than in 2015.

Be safe, plead police.

TAMWORTH | First buskers arrive in country music capitalFrom the Kimberley to Tamworth. Pete Brandy and John Till of BackRoadshave arrived in Tamworth before the Country Music Festivalto sink their teeth into Tamworth’s city’s music atmosphere.

With just over 20 days to go until the big event kicks off, Brandy said locals could check out BackRoads in the city’s main street, and he invited them to come along and listen to the traditional styles of country music including Johnny Cash and Noel Haggard.

Pete Brandy from the Kimberley with David Alexander of Cheapa Music in Tamworth on Thursday. Photo: Simon McCarthy

NOWRA | Sharks swarm Hyams BeachA NSW Department of Primary Industries helicopter took an amazing aerial photograph of a large number of whaler sharks on Thursday. The twitter account @NSWSharkSmarttweeted a picture of 17 whaler sharks in shallow water off Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay about 9:30am.

A aerial photograph of 17 whaler sharks in shallow water at Hyams Beach. Photo: Twitter – @NSWSharkSmart

Just because …You’ve been at work all week? Be like this on Friday:

https://t.co/lU7dnkhuJrpic.twitter南京夜网/azDGPLBNjm

— The Ministry of GIFs (@GIFs) December 29, 2016National newsJulie Bishop backs Israel rather than the US over UN resolution

Australia has broken ranks with the United States and New Zealand over Israel, indicating that it would most likely have opposed the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israelisettlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Julie Bishop said the government had ”consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel”. Photo: Andrew Meares

January 1 price rises and benefit cuts: what you need to know

They say life can change in an instant. Never is that more true than when the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

Along with hangovers and dark circles under their eyes, Australians will awake on Sunday to a host of increased fees, charges, changed regulations and reduced benefits.

Australians will awake on Sunday to a host of increased fees, changed regulations and reduced benefits. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Federal government spends record amount on digital advertising

The federal government spent a record amount on digital advertising in Australia last financial year, with growth in spending on new platforms outpacing all traditional media except for television.

Spending to promote the Turnbull government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda cost $14.9 million. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

National weather radarInternational newsIndonesian police point to Islamic State after 2016 spike in terrorism cases

Indonesia’s police chief has attributed a sharp rise in the number of alleged terrorists handled by his force to the influence of Islamic State and the defeats it is experiencing in the Middle East.

The number of alleged terrorists dealt with by Indonesian police in 2016 was more than double the previous year, as ISencouraged terror cells to carry out attacks beyond Syria.

An Indonesian policeman stands guard in front of a blast site in the aftermath of the January 14 Jakarta attacks. Photo: Getty Images

ASX bounces off early losses to clock new 2016 highs

Shares rallied off early losses to send the benchmark top 200 index to new 2016 highs and within a whisker of 5700 points, as strength in resources names and the big banks outweighed losses in listed property and utility sectors.

A poor lead from Wall St made for a difficult start to the second last trading session for the year, made even trickier as a host of listed trusts traded without the rights to their shareholder payouts.

Continued strength in commodity prices has buoyed the ASX. Photo: Rio Tinto

On this day | December 301703Tokyo hit by Earthquake; about 37,000 die

1924AstronomerEdwin Hubbleformally announces existence of other galactic systems at meeting of the American Astronomical Society

1992 Shane Warne takes 7-52 to lead Australian MCG win vs. West Indies

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jul 18

The 10 best city walking tours

Delhi Food Walk. Expect humour and panache on an Insider Tours, Berlin.
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Sample authentic Indian cuisine on the Delhi Food Walk.

Glasgow Music City Tours.

Guide Fiona Shepherd on Barrowland Pathway, Glasgow Music City Tours.

Spade & Palacio, Montreal.

1 INSIDER TOURS BERLIN

“The best way to experience a city is through its history, yet with an understanding of its future.” So goes the mantra of the crew at Insider Tour Berlin who carefully select their guides to deliver in-depth, unscripted tours on a variety of topics covering Berlin’s dynamic history and culture. It’s the guides that really set this outfit apart; a mix of academics, history buffs, opera directors or adventurers, they deliver an encyclopaedic level of knowledge with humour and genuine panache. The four-hour Famous Insider Walk covering everything from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Hitler’s bunker and the Reichstag parliament building is a must. See insidertour南京夜网  2 CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE TOURS

Chicago’s architecture is among the most revered in America and for good reason. Since most of the downtown area was obliterated in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the city underwent a radical redesign involving some of the most innovative architects in the world. Chicago Architecture Foundation offers more than 85 tours covering every conceivable facet of this history but some of the best include the Art Deco and Historic Skyscrapers tours and the Chicago Masterworks, a riveting overview of the city’s most iconic buildings from the 1870s to the present. The 90-minute River Cruise Tour taking in more than 50 buildings from the water is another favourite.  See architecture.org  3 FRYING PAN ADVENTURES, DUBAI

Experience the “other side” to Dubai with a stroll through some of its ancient neighbourhoods stretching back to the 1980s. Seriously though, this is a great way to investigate the back streets and alleys with a culture far removed from the rampant consumerism, indoor ski slopes and mega hotels. While introducing you to local vendors and chefs, self-confessed “food nerd” guides will show you the best places to sample anything from Palestinian falafels to spicy Indian samosas and the tastiest delicacies in town. See fryingpanadventures南京夜网  4 GRAFFITIMUNDO, BUENOS AIRES

Along with the likes of Berlin, Mexico City and London, Buenos Aires is home to some of the world’s most remarkable street art. Much of it is entrenched in the turbulent political history that saw many a disenfranchised youth wield a defiant spray can in the name of creative activism. It’s the sheer scale and intricacy of many of the murals that will blow you away; some artists even experimented with unusual materials such as asphaltic paint and petrol enabling them to create pieces on a scale that beggars belief. The passionate team at Graffitimundo will guide you around a selection of the best, shedding light on the stories behind the murals before winding up at a bar-come-studio run by practising street artists. See graffitimundo南京夜网  5 UNDERGROUND PORTLAND

A guilty pleasure if ever there was one, this tour describes itself as “A treat for lovers of all things sinister – crime, scandal and controversial characters –  a no-holds-barred excursion into the worst Portland has to offer”. After roaming the streets for the earlier portion of the tour, you’ll then take a subterranean detour beneath the historic Merchant Hotel, an area that was once home to the “Portland Shanghai Tunnels” connecting the Old Town and Chinatown to the central downtown area. Built to unite a network of bars and hotels with the waterfront of the Willamette River, they were used to transport goods quickly and efficiently but some claim they were also used for the more nefarious purpose of Shanghaiing. See portlandwalkingtours南京夜网  6 GLASGOW MUSIC CITY TOURS

Ever yearned to explore the ins and outs of Glasgow’s flourishing music scene? Me neither, but a few minutes into this tour and you’ll be a convert. Led by music fanatics, music writers, and local guys and gals thoroughly entrenched in the city’s cultural landscape, you’ll learn of the best place to see gigs, buy records (yes, some people still like to) and hear intriguing tales of musical folklore. There are two main tours to choose from; the iconic Merchant City and East End Music Venues and Glasgow’s Music Mile. Alternatively, you can tailor-make your own bespoke group tour to suit whatever sounds soothe a savage beast. See glasgowmusiccitytours南京夜网 7 SPADE & PALACIO, MONTREAL

After meeting at guiding classes, diehard Montrealers Danny and Anne-Marie bonded over their shared love of their city and the desire to share it with others. Three years later they set up Spade & Palacio, a tour outfit that has since garnered a reputation as one of the finest in town. The philosophy here is simple; groups are kept intimate – no more than 10 – and the tours showcase lesser known parts of the city while championing young entrepreneurs, artists and innovators. Tours include the Montreal Mural Tour, Beyond the Bike Lanes and Beyond the Market, where you’ll discover hidden charcuteries, local craft brewers and more. See spadeandpalacio南京夜网  8 DELHI FOOD WALK

For travellers, deciding where to eat in a city like Delhi can be a nervy, Imodium-clutching experience, with danger lurking behind every bubbling vat of spiced dhal. But authentic Indian cuisine is some of the finest in the world and to skip on sampling local dishes in favour of chicken and chips back at the hotel is simply criminal. Enter Urban Adventures who will guide you on a three-hour excursion around some of the most genuine, thriving culinary haunts in the city. Mingling with market traders, food vendors and restaurateurs, you’ll scoff your way through anything from shawarmas and dumplings to homemade ice-cream and even fruit beer. A microwave Vindaloo will never look the same again. See urbanadventures南京夜网  9 WINES OF VENICE 

Team up with a local sommelier to explore some of the hidden haunts of Veneto wine while learning about its importance within Italian culture. As you’re whisked around several off the beaten track enotecas  – that’s wine bars to you and me – your ridiculously knowledgeable guide will fill you in on the history of Veneto wine while encouraging you to sample several varietals a world away from the overpriced paint stripper you’ll likely find at nearby tourist trap restaurants. The trip also includes local appetisers, from cured meats to wonderfully potent cheeses and more. See contexttravel南京夜网  10 URBAN DESIGN AND CULTURE, COPENHAGEN

Born out of a mission statement in 2005 to steer away from eye-glazing shuffles around sterile museums and monuments, CPH: Cool (shame about the name) aims to showcase the best of Copenhagen through a mix of design, culture and shopping extravaganzas. There are 10 tours ranging from design and beer to revamped neighbourhoods and architectural curiosities.  The CPH: North tour for example gives a detailed insight into the Norrebro neighbourhood, a melting pot of immigrants and hipsters that was a hub of factories and cheap apartment blocks in the 1960s and has since become one of the slickest parts of town. See cphcool.dk

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jul 18

Flood face-off

UNHAPPY: Concerned Yenda citizens say council’s decision does not give them the protection they need and deserve.Five years after floods devastated the Yenda community, its citizens still lack concrete protection, with debate erupting over how best to stop the townflooding again in the future.
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In December, Griffith City councillors votedto apply for fundingto reinstate thedecommissionedflood gates at theYenda East Mirrool Regulator.

It is a move a group of concerned residents sayis not good enough, believing it is only capable of protecting their homes from a one-in-50-year flood event.

“What we want is for council to design new automated flood gates on both banks of the Canal, capable of mitigating a one-in-100-year flood event,” president of the Yenda Flood Victims Association Paul Rossetto said. Mr Rossetto said the2016 Yenda rain event wasa one-in-five-year rain event and was only ‘just’managed.

The frustration felt by the group was expressed by Gladys Cannard, who said the town wanted less talk and moreaction. “They say flat out they won’t let Yenda flood again, but they still haven’t done anything,” she said.

Griffith City Council’s Brett Stonestreet said while theoption of the automated flood gates was originally recommended, it had never been discussed by the flood management committee who had previously decided to pursue funding for a Lawson siphon. This decision was reversed due to timing and money concerns.

“The cost estimate for both these options was the same, in excess of $10 million,” he said. “That would mean securing an $8 million grant … the likelihood of which is very remote.” Mr Stonestreet said the community would be waiting a decade for either of the two options, with ratepayers having to foot the cost of thedifference.

He said council’s application would mean Yenda having actionin two to three years,assuring the community the gates would be supplemented by publicly releaseddocumented protocols tied to specific water flows to protect the town.

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Jul 18

Summer Quiz: Cricket

David Warner celebrates his 10th ODI century during Australia’s win over New Zealand at Manuka Oval in Canberra on December 6. Photo: Cricket Australia Meg Lanning takes a spectacular diving catch to dismiss Rachael Haynes of the Thunder during a Women’s Big Bash League match. Photo: Scott Barbour
Nanjing Night Net

1. Who was the first Australian captain to win an Ashes series 5-0?

a) Warwick Armstrong

b) Michael Clarke

c) Ricky Ponting

2. Which Australian woman has scored nine ODI centuries?

a) Belinda Clark

b) Meg Lanning

c) Karen Rolton

3. Who did Australia oppose in the Hobart Test in 1989?

a) New Zealand

b) Pakistan

c) Sri Lanka

4. For what trophy do England and the West Indies play?

a) WG Grace Trophy

b) Gary Sobers Shield

c) Wisden Trophy

5. Which current player has the most Test wickets?

a) James Anderson

b) Chris Broad

c) Dale Steyn

6. Who scored 237* in a World Cup quarter-final?

a) Chris Gayle

b) Martin Guptill

c) Sachin Tendulkar

Mitchell Starc covers his face after a missed catching chance off his bowling against South Africa during the test match in Adelaide on November 26. Photo: Rick Rycroft, AP

7. Who has the best bowling figures for an Australian spinner at the SCG?

a) Allan Border

b) Stuart Macgill

c) Shane Warne

8. Who took the first five-wicket haul in ODI cricket?

a) Ian Botham

b) Dennis Lillee

c) Andy Roberts

9. Who made their Test debut on the 2015 Ashes series?

a) Joe Burns

b) Usman Khawaja

c) Peter Nevill

10. Who is the only Australian to score a Test century against the World XI?

a) Adam Gilchrist

b) Matthew Hayden

c) Ricky Ponting

11. Who made his Test debut in the same match as Mark Taylor?

a) Glenn McGrath

b) Trevor Hohns

c) Michael Slater

12. Which wicketkeeper has made the most Test dismissals?

a) Mark Boucher

b) Adam Gilchrist

c) Ian Healy

Answers: 1. (a), 2. (b), 3. (c), 4. (c), 5. (a), 6. (b), 7. (a), 8. (b), 9. (c), 10. (b), 11. (b), 12. (a).

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jul 18

Tassie top of the pops

Cheers: Devonport’s Nikita Hillier gets into the spirit ahead of new year celebrations with a bottle of Tassie sparkling. Picture: Phillip BiggsOne of the finestways to toast in the new year is with a glass of award-winning North-West sparkling wine.
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Tasmania hasbecomerecognised for being top of the pops when it comes to producing some of the world’s best sparkling wines.

Although there are fewer vineyards on the Coastthisregion has producedsome greatsparklings.

Barringwood Vineyard has just beenrecognised this week for havingthe best sparkling at the Taste of Tasmania food festival.

Other award-winning sparkling winesproduced in the North-West include Ghost Rock Vineyard’sCatherine and Lake Barrington Vineyard’sAlexandra.

Lake Barrington is one of the oldest vineyards in Tasmania – established in 1984 by well-knownmedico Roger Taylor and his wife Maree with Alexandra named after their daughter.

The vineyard,purchased in 2005 by Charles and Jill Macek,specialises in sparkling wine.

Meantime,Tasmanian sparkling wine has been heralded for having a breakthrough year in 2016.

According toBrand Tasmania the year was a stellar one based onthe comments ofaward-winning wine critic, Tyson Stelzer, whotold the2016 Effervescence Festival it wastime for Tasmania to be more vocal about the state’ssparkling wines.

“It’s the best of the best,”Mr Stelzer said in the Brand Tasmania newsletter.

“In Australiathere are no sparkling wines that are better than what’s coming out of Tasmania…Tasmanian sparkling wine, by every measure, eclipses everything coming from the mainland.”

Mr Stelzer told Brand Tasmania there wasa 70 per centrise in Tasmanian sparkling production this year, and volume was up 140 per centover two vintages.

“I suspect we might be entering a golden era for Tasmanian sparkling: a time when these wines are recognised, as they should rightfully be recognised, as some of the greatest sparkling wines in the southern hemisphere,” he said.

According to Wine Tasmania about 4.6 million bottles of sparkling wine wereproduced this year,up from 2.7 million in 2015.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jul 18

Happy Friday, Tassie | December 30, 2016

Vibestown promise spectacular Royal Eve eventTasmania’s news headlinesLaunceston weatherFriday will bepartly cloudy with a slight chance of rain in the morning. Northwesterly winds are expected to reach 30km/h. A maximum of 25 degrees.
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The UV Index is predicted to reach 13, which is extreme. Sun protection should be worn from 9am to 5.50pm.

Northern snapshot35 minor crasheson Wednesday:Police were kept busy on the road on Wednesday.

Star Bar put on the market:One of Launceston’s most popular bars is up for sale.

State’s bikie war rages on:Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard weighs in on outlaw motorcycle gangs in Tasmania.

A Big Night for the little guys in Launceston to Hobart:Jeff Cordell and his Mumm36B&G Advantage were the first to get the building easterly just before dawn.

Pic by @doupishousi in Sydney.

Regional newsLAUNCESTON | Falls pill-testing trial pushHarm Reduction Australia says Tasmania could offer a pill-testing service at Falls Festival as a trial that other states could follow.

The organisation’s president, Gino Vumbaca, said he would love to see Tasmania lead the way on the issue, which has been a hot topic nationwide in the lead-up to festival season.

Harm Reduction Australia wants Tasmania to lead the nation in a festival pill-testing trial. Picture: Scott Gelston

ULLADULLA |South Coast men face court after biggest cocaine bust in Australian historyTwo South Coast men are among 15 arrested in connection to an alleged multi-million dollar drug syndicate importing cocaine via Sydney’s iconic fish markets and other NSW ports.

Michael Pirrello, 33, and Francesco Pirello, 39, were arrested in Ulladulla and refused bail in Nowra Local Court on Thursday.

AFP officers stand guard over some of the 500kilo cocaine seized during the Christmas Day bust. Picture: Kate Geraghty

BENDIGO | Victoriabracingfor January 1 power price hikeVictorians could pay an average of $230 a year more for their combined electricity and gas bills in 2017 as a price hike comes into effect from January 1.

Consumers are being urged to shop around to avoid price gouging, with the bulk of the electricity price rise blamed on the looming closure of the Hazelwood power station.

Expect to pay more.

BALLARAT | Region’s road toll highest in 20 yearsRoad authorities are making a last minute New Year plea to drivers to stop the region’s road toll, which is the worst in 20 years, from further increasing.

This year the combined Ballarat, Moorabool, Hepburn and Pyrenees government arearecorded 21 road fatalities –more than four times higher than in 2015.

Be safe, plead police.

TAMWORTH | First buskers arrive in country music capitalFrom the Kimberley to Tamworth. Pete Brandy and John Till of BackRoadshave arrived in Tamworth before the Country Music Festivalto sink their teeth into Tamworth’s city’s music atmosphere.

With just over 20 days to go until the big event kicks off, Brandy said locals could check out BackRoads in the city’s main street, and he invited them to come along and listen to the traditional styles of country music including Johnny Cash and Noel Haggard.

Pete Brandy from the Kimberley with David Alexander of Cheapa Music in Tamworth on Thursday. Photo: Simon McCarthy

NOWRA | Sharks swarm Hyams BeachA NSW Department of Primary Industries helicopter took an amazing aerial photograph of a large number of whaler sharks on Thursday. The twitter account @NSWSharkSmarttweeted a picture of 17 whaler sharks in shallow water off Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay about 9:30am.

A aerial photograph of 17 whaler sharks in shallow water at Hyams Beach. Photo: Twitter – @NSWSharkSmart

Just because …You’ve been at work all week? Be like this on Friday:

https://t.co/lU7dnkhuJrpic.twitter南京夜网/azDGPLBNjm

— The Ministry of GIFs (@GIFs) December 29, 2016National newsJulie Bishop backs Israel rather than the US over UN resolution

Australia has broken ranks with the United States and New Zealand over Israel, indicating that it would most likely have opposed the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israelisettlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Julie Bishop said the government had ”consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel”. Photo: Andrew Meares

January 1 price rises and benefit cuts: what you need to know

They say life can change in an instant. Never is that more true than when the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

Along with hangovers and dark circles under their eyes, Australians will awake on Sunday to a host of increased fees, charges, changed regulations and reduced benefits.

Australians will awake on Sunday to a host of increased fees, changed regulations and reduced benefits. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Federal government spends record amount on digital advertising

The federal government spent a record amount on digital advertising in Australia last financial year, with growth in spending on new platforms outpacing all traditional media except for television.

Spending to promote the Turnbull government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda cost $14.9 million. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

National weather radarInternational newsIndonesian police point to Islamic State after 2016 spike in terrorism cases

Indonesia’s police chief has attributed a sharp rise in the number of alleged terrorists handled by his force to the influence of Islamic State and the defeats it is experiencing in the Middle East.

The number of alleged terrorists dealt with by Indonesian police in 2016 was more than double the previous year, as ISencouraged terror cells to carry out attacks beyond Syria.

An Indonesian policeman stands guard in front of a blast site in the aftermath of the January 14 Jakarta attacks. Photo: Getty Images

ASX bounces off early losses to clock new 2016 highs

Shares rallied off early losses to send the benchmark top 200 index to new 2016 highs and within a whisker of 5700 points, as strength in resources names and the big banks outweighed losses in listed property and utility sectors.

A poor lead from Wall St made for a difficult start to the second last trading session for the year, made even trickier as a host of listed trusts traded without the rights to their shareholder payouts.

Continued strength in commodity prices has buoyed the ASX. Photo: Rio Tinto

On this day | December 301703Tokyo hit by Earthquake; about 37,000 die

1924AstronomerEdwin Hubbleformally announces existence of other galactic systems at meeting of the American Astronomical Society

1992 Shane Warne takes 7-52 to lead Australian MCG win vs. West Indies

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jul 18

Amazon calls 2016 holidays sales ‘the best-ever season’

Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You was one of the top songs played through Amazon’s Alexa devices this holiday period. Photo: Film Magic Amazon Tap is a portable battery-powered version of the older Echo, which responds to verbal commands such as “turn on the lights”. Photo: Amazon
Nanjing Night Net

Global online giant Amazon has released sales data from the 2016 holiday season and the numbers and types of items bought will sober up any retailer who ate their aunt’s Christmas sherry trifle.

A staggering 1 billion-plus items were shipped worldwide over the Christmas break – termed the “holiday season” – from its Prime Now hubs and fulfilment centres, the Amazon distribution centres.

The group said its peak day was December 19, while December 23 was the biggest day ever for Prime Now deliveries worldwide, where members ordered three times more items compared to last year with one and two-hour delivery worldwide.

And to put fear into the hearts of electrical and technical device retailers, the main product was Amazon’s own Alexa devices. These are Echo speakers based on the Alexa’s voice-recognition software, they include Echo Dot, Amazon Echo, Fire TV Stick.

The sales, [although Amazon did not release dollar values], came on the back of Cyber Monday in November, where Amazon customers worldwide purchased about 46 electronics per second on a mobile device and about 36 toys per second on a mobile device.

In a report from Citi Australia, released in August, its author Craig Woolford, said it’s not “if, but when” Amazon arrives in Australia and he predicted it will hit retailers such as Harvey Norman and JB HI-FI very hard.

Amazon uses fulfilment centres – very large warehouses across the world – and is said to be looking for appropriate space in Australia. Industrial agents say Goodman Group’s Oakdale industrial estate could be a possibility.

To help its more than 200,000 full-time and seasonal staff, Amazon also has 45,000 robotics units working in more than 20 fulfilment centres.

And, according to Amazon’s latest figures released after Boxing Day, electrical items flew off the shelves.

The group said sales for Amazon’s devices including Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, Fire tablet and Amazon Echo, were up more than nine times compared to last year’s holiday season and millions of Alexa devices sold worldwide this year.

No actual sales amounts were released, but the devices, such as the Echo Dot, sell for $US49.99, while tablets start at about $US120 per item. Audio and accessories included Panasonic ErgoFit in-ear earbud headphones, AmazonBasics six-outlet surge protector power strip, Sonos PLAY:1 compact wireless smart speaker for streaming music. Most watched

To ensure everyone could watch the most “requested holiday movies”, old favourites Home Alone and Elf, Amazon南京夜网 customers purchased enough 4K TVs to reach the peak of Mount Everest more than nine times.

One person that will be happy, following her break up with James Packer, is singer Mariah Carey, whose song, All I Want for Christmas Is You, was one of the top ones played through the Alexa device, along with Jingle Bells, the 1999-remaster by Frank Sinatra and Mariah Carey and Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano.

Amazon’s chief executive worldwide consumer, Jeff Wilke, said Echo and Echo Dot were the best-selling products across Amazon this year, and “we’re thrilled that millions of new customers will be introduced to Alexa as a result”.

“Despite our best efforts and ramped-up production, we still had trouble keeping them in stock. From turning on Christmas lights and playing holiday music to shopping for gifts and asking for help with cookie recipes, Alexa continues to get smarter every day,” Mr Wilke said.

According to Amazon, thanks to cooking shows on television, customers purchased enough KitchenAid mixers this holiday to make nearly 7.5 million cookies at once.

Customers purchased enough copies of Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection to play consecutively for more than 300 years.

Mr Wilke said if each Amazon南京夜网 customer who purchased Pokemon Sun and Moon this holiday spent at least an hour a day playing the game since its release, “our customers would have spent the equivalent of more than 24 thousand lunar cycles capturing Pokemon”.

The sporting minded, which many Australians are, were not left behind with Amazon customers buying enough golf balls this holiday that, if lined up, would equal the length of Pebble Beach golf course four times over, and enough running shoes to run 18,603 times around the globe.

Jewellery retailers are also under pressure with Amazon saying it sold 2.5 million watches – that is a watch purchased every 1.5 seconds this holiday season.

“Amazon南京夜网 customers purchased 10,451 carats of diamonds, which is equal to 6.5 Russian Kokoshnik tiaras, one of the Queen of England’s most famous tiaras,” Mr Wilke said.

The mining sector will be happy to know that Amazon南京夜网 customers also bought the weight of a “grizzly bear in gold and the weight of a rhinoceros in silver”.

The last Prime Now order delivered in time for Christmas was delivered at 11:59 pm on December 24 to a Prime member in Irvine, California, who was clearly feeling the effects of the season as it included a heated mattress pad, NyQuil and Afrin nasal spray.

However, perhaps in preparation for the usual tetchy family Christmas gatherings, an order was made from Virginia on December 24 for Venum Contender boxing gloves.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jul 18

January 1 price rises and benefit cuts: what you need to know

Australians will awake on Sunday to a host of increased fees, changed regulations and reduced benefits.They say life can change in an instant.
Nanjing Night Net

Never is that more true than when the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

Along with hangovers and dark circles under their eyes, Australians will awake on Sunday to a host of increased fees, charges, changed regulations and reduced benefits.

Get set to pay more and receive less.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Pensioners

A shake-up of the test that determines whether people are eligible to receive the age pension, the disability support pension and the carers pension will mean reduced payments for more than 230,000 pensioners and payments ceasing altogether for about 90,000 more. Pensioners affected by the change should have already received a letter from Centrelink.

Some pensioners – about 170,000 – will actually receive a pension boost, because the government is lifting the total value of assets – cash, shares, investment properties – pensioners can own before their pension rate is reduced from the full rate. The family home remains excluded, as always.

But many more will lose out under the changes thanks to an increase in the rate at which pension payments are reduced once assets exceed the threshold value. Currently, for every $1000 of assets a pensioner owns above the asset threshold, their fortnightly pension payment is reduced by $1.50. This will increase to $3 on January 1 – returning it to where it was before the Howard government made it more generous in 2006.

Dental care

Three million children who live in families that receive Family Tax Benefit Part A will, from January 1, have their entitlement to free dental services capped at $700 over two years, down from $1000 previously. Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley says only 30 per cent of children who are entitled to the payment actually use it, and the average claimed per patient is just $302. However, 8 per cent of children eligible for the subsidies are expected to be affected by the change – leaving about a quarter of a million kids worse off.

The new year also brings reduced funding for adult dental services, after the federal government announced just before Christmas that it would give the states just $107 million in funding each year for the next three years, down from $155 million this funding year. The Gillard government had originally pledged $391 million for the coming funding year.

The new year brings reduced funding for adult dental services. Photo: Quentin Jones

Minister Ley was unable to get the states to agree to her $1.7 billion, four-year, combined Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme and announced the reduced funding agreement just before Christmas instead. The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association says public dental services will be “severely compromised” as a result of the funding cuts and estimates 338,000 Australians will lose access to public dental services as a result.

Prescription drugs

The new year will herald higher co-payments for prescription drugs. The co-payment per script will rise to $6.30 for concession cardholders (up from $6.20) and to $38.80 for general patients (up from $38.30). A 2014 Coalition plan to increase the general co-payment by another $5 remains on ice however, one of several “zombie” measures in the federal budget that have yet to pass through Parliament.

But it is older Australians and frequent prescription users who will suffer the most in the new year as their free drugs safety net resets.

“There’s two ways people will pay more for drugs from January 1,” a spokesman for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Greg Turnbull, said.

“First, there will be an increase in the co-payments, which increase each year with inflation. And second, when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, people who have been enjoying free prescriptions because they reached the safety net at some point during this year will start paying co-contributions again until they hit the safety net in 2017.”

Welfare crackdown

As part of the Coalition’s $6 billion omnibus savings bill, passed in September, people who have received welfare overpayments will start paying interest of 8 per cent on their debts from January 1, unless they are complying with a repayment plan.

People who owe money to Centrelink will also be able to be ordered not to leave the country until they pay, similar to arrangements in place to stop parents who skip child support payments from skipping the country.

January 1 also ushers in a host of new changes to welfare eligibility criteria, including that:

Fringe benefits received from employers will now be included in the income test for family assistance and youth payments (unless your employer is a not-for-profit);Child support payments will now be included in the income test for youth allowance;Age pensioners who move into aged care and rent out their former home will now have this rental income included when determining their age pension payments;New recipients of the carers allowance will lose an ability to have their payments backdated.New migrants who arrive under the family reunions channel will now need to serve a two-year waiting period before they qualify for income support payments.

Backpackers’ taxThe Turnbull government’s controversial backpackers’ tax will finally come into effect from January 1. People aged 18 to 30 who come to Australia as temporary working holidaymakers will start paying income tax of 15 cents from the first dollar they earn.

Previously, backpackers were taxed the same as Australian citizens, meaning they could earn up to $18,000 without paying tax. The Turnbull government’s May budget sought to align them to the tax treatment of non-residents, which is 32.5 cents from the first dollar they earn, but the government watered down the measure after a backlash from tourism and regional businesses.

Vocational education

Eradicating dodgy vocational educational providers is the aim of a revamped student loans scheme which comes into effect from January 1. The new VET Student Loans program will replace the old VET FEE-HELP scheme, under which loans increased from $26 million in 2009 to $2.9 billion last year as unscrupulous providers sought to sign up vulnerable students to courses of questionable value.

Students enrolling in vocational education institutions this year will need to double check with the Australian Skills Quality Authority that their institution remains an eligible provider, or they will be ineligible for a student loan this year. There will also be a new cap on loan amounts and stronger criteria for which courses are eligible.

The cost of a new passport will increase from January 1.

Passports

Bad luck for those who have booked holidays but not yet arranged their passports. From January 1, the cost of each new passport will increase by $20 for adults and $10 for children and seniors. The fee for priority processing of passport applications will increase by an even heftier $54.

Nannies pilot

Due to an overwhelming lack of uptake, the government’s pilot program to pay subsidies to families who employ private nannies will cease to accept new families from January 1. The government booked a saving of $170 million in its December mid-year budget update by winding back the number of places set aside and closing the scheme to new families from January 1.

Asthma drugs

Good news for an estimated 370 severe asthma sufferers who will benefit from the listing of a new medicine, Nucala, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from January 1. Previously, patients with this severe form of asthma would have to pay $21,000 each year to access the new treatment, which involves monthly injections. The listing will cost $25 million over four years.

Youth allowance

Every little bit helps. About 1 million recipients of Austudy, Youth Allowance, Carer Allowance and young recipients of the disability support pension will wake up to a few extra dollars a week thanks to the regular annual indexation of their payments.

Youth Allowance recipients will get between $2.40 and $5.70 extra a fortnight. Austudy recipients will get between $4.30 and $5.70 a fortnight. Payments increase with inflation, rather than the more generous measure of average wages growth which pensioners enjoy.

Transport

Opal fares remain frozen until July, but the cost of some other trips will rise.

Tolls will increase between 1¢ and 8¢ for cars using the Hills M2 Motorway, M5 South-West Motorway, Westlink M7, Eastern Distributor, Cross City Tunnel and Lane Cove Tunnel.

An increase of between 4¢ and $1.89 will also apply to trucks using these roads, as part of the regular quarterly adjustment to tolls.

Trips on the privately contracted Manly Fast Ferry service will rise by around 10¢ per trip as part of an agreement for regular annual inflation increases.

The vehicle tax for light vehicles will rise by between $3 and $10, depending on weight and whether it is for private or business use. Other registration fees and charges remain the same.

Solar bonus scheme

The NSW Solar Bonus Scheme will end at midnight on December 31, meaning drastically reduced payments for solar panel owners.

The scheme was only supposed to attract 42,000 households, but 147,000 households ended up signing up for the scheme which earned them 60¢ or 20¢ for every kilowatt hour of power they supplied to the grid.

The new year will see these “feed in tariffs” earned by solar panel owners reduced to just 6¢ for AGL and EnergyAustralia customers, 10¢ for Origin customers and 12¢ from smaller players like Enova Energy.

Foreign property investors

The Baird government’s new Foreign Investor Land Tax Surcharge will come into force from January 1.

Foreign investors who own residential real estate in NSW will be slapped with a new and ongoing additional surcharge of 0.75 per cent of the unimproved value of their land, in addition to the usual land tax.

There will be no tax-free threshold, meaning if a property has an unimproved land value of $1 million, the foreign owner will, from January 1, pay a foreign investor surcharge of $7500 per year.

Land tax bills

There is some relief in sight for investment property owners, however, as land tax thresholds are increased from January 1. The threshold at which property investors must start paying land tax will increase from an unimproved land value of $482,000 to a value of $549,000. The premium threshold will increase from $2,947,000 to $3,357,000.

This article first appeared on smh南京夜网419论坛

Jul 18

Letters to the Editor

Republic debate: Bob Hawke says abolish state governments and think big to fix the nation.Recycled ideaWE’VE heard it before; the recycled idea of abolishing the States and running everything from Canberra.
Nanjing Night Net

The recent remarks by ex-PM Hawke and ex-Premier Kennett are in agreement that we are over governed by the States and too many local councils, too many politicians and too many regulations at every level.

But would abolishing the States make us better off?

We’ve seen council amalgamations, accompanied by accelerating costs when we were told it would be cheaper.

Sure we’re over regulated, and that needs to be addressed at every level.

Politicians seem to delight in bringing in more and more regulations and taxes and they would do that still if ALL was run from Canberra.

When that proved a failure would the next suggestion be World Governance? Some would like that idea too.

It was in Nazi Germany that Hitler abolished the States and ran everything from Berlin.

Why should we think about going down the same road?

Where do these people get their ideas?

Are they just doing it for publicity and cause end of year controversy?

Jay Nauss

Glen Aplin

Abolishing Federation Is Not the AnswerSo, Bob Hawke wants to abolish the States (SMH DECEMBER 28 2016)without any thought to the part they play in protecting the democracy of the individual.

Admittedly, our political leaders seem to act more as dictators than participants in one of the world’s great democracies and undoubtedlyHawke is right when he infers that we are over-governed.

There are too many politicians with too many staff not doing enough to serve the communities they represent.

With most politicians supporting a republic but with little appetite for constitutional change amongst Australians in general and with far more important things on their minds, it is no wonder that most people consider their political representatives to be out of touch.

The answer, however, is not to abolish the States but rather to lessen the incessant round of quarrelsome party politics that are undermining our Federation.

It is time that all politicians realised that they are there not primarily to do the bidding of their political parties but to represent and to serve the people first.

Australia has, in theory at least, a decentralised polity which is a strength and a considerable one at that.

Were the States to be abolished the result would be a hugely increased centralised authoritarian bureaucracy in Canberra.

The government would be even more imperious than at present and even more out of touch with the people than their State representatives are.

The individual would be greatly diminished democratically whereas under our federal system the individual is provided with some measure of localisation and accountability..

Bob Hawke’s dream appears to be of a monopolistic bureaucratically red-taped monolith driven by ideologues with visions for some sort of Utopia which had a better place in the Marxist regimes of yesteryear.

Under the Hawke plan, the whole Constitution would have to be revised with the semi-independence of states obliterated but, of course, it was always Labor’s plan to increase local government, abolish the States and Federation itself as a pathway to bringing on a republic.

The only problem for Labor – and Hawke – is that the people simply won’t put up with it.

Philip Benwell

National Chair

Australian Monarchist League

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.